One of our loyal commenters has offered up his first main cricketing memory for a piece. SimonH, international governance monitor, statistics maestro, memory man for the game has put together this piece on his first test match memory.
I’ve decided to cut it into two pieces, with the first part the build up to the game and the events of Day 1. The second will finish off the game report, and the aftermath of the match.
As always, I’d love to get pieces from you out there on your cricketing memories, or on anything that catches your eye or you want to talk about. We don’t take anything, as it has to be within the blog’s remit (don’t ask me to define it), but we do certainly like pieces like this.
So, SimonH…. this is your test!
FORTY YEARS ON – ENGLAND V WEST INDIES, 3rd TEST 1976
We all have matches that are particularly dear to us. Some of these are dear to most fans because the game is such an obvious classic – Headingley ’81 or Edgbaston 2005 spring to mind. But others are more personal. Often it’s a first that sticks in the memory. My first ‘live Test was bloody awful. England lost to India at Lord’s under leaden skies.
However the first Test I can remember specific moments from watching on TV has stayed with me and it’s a shock to find it was forty years ago this month that it took place……
Cricket and me – I had been hooked on cricket the previous year by the first World Cup and my father’s love of the game. It was a love that dare not speak its name at school though (a West Sussex rural comprehensive) where football was king and cricket was seen as dull and posh (if it was noticed at all). This eleven year old was desperate for the game to show it was pretty cool. I’d watched some of the 1975 Ashes but can’t really remember any of it if I’m honest. I don’t remember the first two Tests of this series either (although I do remember watching the ‘Grovel’ interview on ‘South Today’). The Third Test at Old Trafford is the first Test I remember watching – and it turned out to be a game with everything the sport has to offer, except a close finish. It was also one of the most significant games of the modern era, marking the formation of a dynasty that would rule the cricketing world for two decades.
England – England had been the dominant side of the early 70s in world cricket, at times holding all the trophies (TM). What had seemed a settled side inherited by Mike Denness from Ray Illingworth had capitulated in the original ‘difficult winter’ of 74/75 and I got a clear impression from my father that English manhood had somehow been found wanting. Tony Grieg had taken over the captaincy in 1975 and the side recovered some pride as David Steele stood up to Lillee and Thomson. Although Boycott was in self-imposed exile, the team had Edrich’s reassuring presence at the top, SPOTY Steele at No.3, Bob Woolmer fresh off 149 against the Aussies and the new Cowdrey we were told in the middle order, Greig and Knott to halt any collapses at six and seven and plenty of bowling options that seemed to cover all eventualities (pace from Snow and some bloke called Willis if only he’d stay fit, plenty of English type seamers, spin was in the capable hands of Underwood). There was no winter tour 1975/76 so the team was somewhat unproven but there was little sense that this was a team heading for the slaughter.
West Indies – West Indies had been through a rocky patch after 1967 when the great 60s side started to age. From 1967-74 their only great series’ win was in England in 1973 but around that were some poor results. The middle order batting (with Kanhai, Sobers, Lloyd and new bloods Kallicharran and Rowe) and the spin department with Gibbs still looked strong but (ironically, given what was to follow) they had no reliable opener to partner Roy Fredericks and the pace bowling had lacked any real speedster. It all started to come together for West Indies on the 1974 tour of India as new batsmen Greenidge and Richards established themselves and the attack found a new spearhead in Andy Roberts. However that appeared a false dawn as the team went to Australia in 75/76 and were mauled, both on the pitch by Lillee and Thomson (Kallicharran vomited on the pitch after being hit on the head by one bouncer, Bernard Julian had his hand broken by another) and off it by some crowd behaviour that shocked some of the younger players who’d never encountered such blatant racial taunting. West Indies tried to fight fire with fire on that tour and kept losing wickets to hook shots that reinforced the stereotype of ‘calypso cricketers’ who couldn’t knuckle down under pressure. New captain Clive Lloyd, one of the few to sustain his personal performance on that tour and now able to put his stamp on the team with the Sobers-Kanhai-Gibbs generation departing, was determined to change all that.
Cricinfo recently interviewed some of the participants here:
GROVEL – had there been any previous series more famous for what was said to the media more than any of the actual play? And has there been a more infamous line by a Test captain than Greig’s:
Greig’s choice of words, and his delivery in that unmistakable accent, hung over that tour. The fact that there was some reasonable thinking behind it was obliterated by his crassness. West Indies had just lost 5-1 in Australia. England had beaten them on the 73/74 tour by hanging on in a series of draws until West Indies collapsed, apparently under pressure and to Greig’s own bowling, in the final Test. Greig himself had been involved in the controversial run out of Kallicharran and seemed to thrive on confrontation. My memory of it at the time is that it was controversial but more for Greig’s brashness and impoliteness than for its racial sensitivity. That only became clearer (at least to a white schoolboy in rural Sussex) as the summer unfolded.
What few had noticed was that in their last series before coming to England, West Indies had taken on India at home. Some fellow called Richards (mainly up until then famous for his fielding in the 1975 WC Final) had scored a stack of runs at No.3. The last Test seemed to have some odd goings on with half the Indian team marked down as ‘absent hurt’. There were accounts of fearsome pace from new bowlers Holding and Daniel – but then hadn’t India been bowled by England for 42 only a couple of years earlier by Old and Hendrick? Perhaps Holding and Daniel were as quick as those two? India had also chased a then-world record score to win the Test before Kingston – so it looked at worst as if the West Indies were still crazily inconsistent. Nothing too much to worry about……
The West Indies played warm-up matches against all bar one of the counties on that tour. Win after win didn’t set many alarm bells ringing. The few who saw them thrash a strong MCC side at Lord’s (including a century for Richards and seven wickets for Holding plus putting Denis Amiss in hospital) warned this was a formidable team. Still, Yorkshire had come within 19 runs of beating them and Chris Balderstone had nearly scored two centuries off them for Leicestershire.
THE IMMEDIATE CONTEXT
Given what was about to happen, it’s still slightly surprising to realise that the teams went into the Third Test after two draws. Not only that – the matches had been quite even. West Indies had the best of the first game after Viv Richards made 232 (I think I remember him saying that was the best innings of his career) but England held on for the draw relatively easily. Steele and Woolmer made runs which seemed to show their performances against Australia were no one-off. England had the better of Lord’s with Underwood skittling the tourists in the first innings and West Indies had been only four wickets from defeat at the end. The match had ended with Greig resisting Lloyd’s call to call things off early and with England fielders clustered around the bat.
However….. West Indies had not been at full strength for either game. Holding and Daniel had missed the First Test and Richards the Second Test. At Old Trafford, they had everyone fit. England, on the other hand, had problems, especially with the bowling. Snow and Old were injured (possibly others too) so England’s pace attack lacked a cutting edge. However, West Indies had collapsed against spin at Lord’s, had collapsed against spin in 73/74 and OT had a reputation for turning compounded by rumours that, as the hot summer of ’76 took hold, the pitch was dried and cracked. England went in with two English-style seamers in Hendrick and, on debut, Mike Selvey, two support seamers in Woolmer and Greig and two spinners in Underwood and Pocock. There was an issue in the batting too – the openers at Lord’s hadn’t convinced (Mike Brearley had looked out of his depth, Barry Wood had been injured by Roberts) so 45 year old Brian Close (who had top scored at Lord’s) was pushed up to open and local hero Frank Hayes (who had made a debut century against 1973 West Indies) was called up. There were promising young batsmen emerging on the county scene like Gooch, Graham Barlow and Randall but the selectors held off picking them (perhaps remembering Gooch’s tough baptism against Lillee and Thomson the year before). Randall was made 12th man which was one of the few times in his career the selectors did him a big favour.
DAY ONE – Clive Lloyd won the toss and batted. That was what you did in those days. It was the right decision – and made precious little difference. The start of that day is etched on memory. In his first over, Selvey bounced Roy Fredericks who hooked it straight down Underwood’s throat at long leg. Fredericks falling on his wicket in the WC Final hooking was my first cricket memory and now Fredericks getting out hooking was my first Test memory. I’ve never seen Selvey explain why he bowled that bouncer. In his next over, Viv Richards played his trademark walking on-drive to a big in-swinger, for the only time in his career that I can remember missed it and was bowled. Almost immediately , Kallicharran (who like Lloyd and Rowe was never in any great form on that tour) played on. Lloyd was soon caught at slip off Hendrick and West Indies were 26-4.
What followed was one of those times when you know you’re watching something special. When it’s one of your heroes doing it, it’s something even more. As a young Hampshire fan (although I lived about 800 yards over the border in Sussex I was born in Hampshire, all my family were from Hampshire and there was only one team I was ever going to care about), Richards and Greenidge were my heroes. Greenidge in particular was one of ours. With Greenidge and Roberts playing for West Indies and considerable resentment that Hampshire players (despite the team winning the CC in ’73 and coming second in ’74) were ignored by England, I could feel nothing but enjoyment at what Greenidge was doing. A lifetime of not seeing England as ‘us’ and the opposition as ‘them’ was born. West Indies were more ‘us’ than England to me. I liked him because he hit the ball hard. Very hard. And he had the coolest of cream pads. Later the pleasure would be deepened by discovering Gerenidge had not had an easy upbringing and was a complex and at times difficult man. But mostly he hit the ball hard. When the bowler pitched up, Greenidge waiting on the back foot, would throw his whole weight into the drive in a way that wasn’t textbook, and would get him out sometimes, but was mighty thrilling when it came off. Even better when bowlers pitched short, he took it on. If it was wide, he’d cut – and what a cut! If it was straight, he’d hook – and it very seldom seemed to get him out. No ‘high to low’, no rolling the wrists – he’d try to hook it out of the ground and he usually did. He was everything I wanted to be, but wasn’t. If I couldn’t be it, I could damn well appreciate it in others.
In bald stats, what Greenidge did that day was score 134 out of 211 (193 while he was at the crease). He gave no chances – the nearest he came to dismissal was a top-edged hook that landed between Knott and Underwood. Only Charles Bannerman in the very first Test had scored a higher percentage of his team’s runs at the time (three more have since):
Not only was it a lone-hand but he scored his runs at a phenomenal rate by the standards up to that time:
It wasn’t quite Roy Fredericks in Perth – but it would do. Greenidge’s main support came from one of the great unrealised talents in West Indies’ cricket, Collis King, who on debut reined himself in to make a handy 32. King would only play nine Tests but would have his moment in the 1979 WC Final when he eclipsed even Viv Richards for a time. He never seemed forgiven after Packer and ended up a banned SA tour rebel. These days he’d have made a fortune in franchises.
England ended the day on 37-2 with Close and Steele out. Batting had looked tough but the match seemed evenly poised. The next day saw a power-shift in world cricket that would last two decades…..
The second part will be put up in the next day or so. My thanks to Simon for all the effort put into this. I don’t remember this test myself, but do recall Viv’s 232 at Trent Bridge and 291 at The Oval.
Great stuff and what memories. The match is very clear in my mind. I remember sitting at home watching the first morning (black and white tv!), and the 26 for 4, rudely interrupted by the social security visiting officer turning up to check on my supplementary benefit claim (I had somehow managed not to find permanent gainful employment in London after leaving university).
I always think of the 1976 West Indies team as one of the most formidable ever. I did attend the MCC match you mention, and missed Dennis Amiss getting himself out of the test team, but I did see Michael Holding unleash a very slightly short of a length delivery that took Graham Roope on the shoulder, and went for four leg byes – it actually may have been six leg byes. I only saw the ball when it whacked into the pavilion end fencing and I was sitting behind the bowler’s arm at the Nursery End.
For those too young to have witnessed it, I have to say that I can’t recall any other event quite so intimidating and depressing (for an England supporter) as seeing Vivian Richards stroll out to bat, swinging his bat high. I was psyched out watching it, so heaven knows what the bowlers and fielders felt.
I wouldn’t really be able to truly visualise myself in either position, but I think I’d rather be a bowler looking down the pitch at Viv Richards than a batsman looking up the pitch at Michael Holding 🙂
Great memories TB. Here’s the scorecard of that match:
Graham Roope had made 77 in the last Test against the 1975 Australians – but he didn’t play in any of the 1976 Tests. He was recalled in 1977 and was batting at the other end when Geoffrey made his 100th hundred at Headingley. He was one of the best slip fielders of the era.
How did Phil Carrick end up batting at No.3 in both innings? Was he nightwatchman twice?
I just dug out the 1977 Wisden and it states that West Indies declared their first innings “to give their bowlers a fling in the last half hour”. It also mentions that Amiss’ injury occurred five minutes before the close on the Saturday (day one), and he would have retired, so no doubt Carrick was indeed the nightwatchman. It’s not possible from the Wisden report to tell what happened in the second innings but clearly he would not have batted above 8 normally.
What we had to put up with in those days, eh? No close of play scores…..
Close of play Day 1 – 23/0 – Brearley and Carrick not out batsmen.
Cricinfo has Carrick batting at 8 in the second innings.
1976 was the first summer I really took interest in cricket. I was 7 during it, and wondered just what had England done to deserve coming up against Viv Richards. His 291 seemed like it would never end, and I do believe, if memory serves, he lost his wicket while BBC was off at the horse racing (it would have been on a Friday – for years I thought it was during Grandstand).
I also remembered the Greenidge / Fredericks partnership at The Oval too, when they hit 180 was it for no loss. But no memory at all of Dennis Amiss making a double ton!
That test is a monument in my life of cricket, and yet the 3rd test isn’t. Now it is most remembered for the pummeling that Edrich and Close got. Simon’s piece brings that great match to life.
Given the upcoming test match the second part will be out around this time next week, but if there are any suggestions of great matches to write a piece about, do let me know.
I don’t think it van be right that Richards was dismissed while the BBC was off air, as I can remember seeing the dismissal and feeling deprived not to be able to witness a triple. (We don’t get many of those in home tests after all.
You can’t reasonably be expected to remember details from when you were only 7, but I (aged 21 at the time) remember Amiss’ double ton at the Oval quite well, and his strange adapted stance, totally square on and involving moving out to the off side while maintaining the square stance. It can be seen on YouTube of course. I had watched him a lot before that and this was a completely alien style. He deserves credit for adaptabilty and went on to score 179 in his very next test using his normal technique as far as I know (in India). A great batsman, in my view, He would make absolute shedfuls of runs today.
I think they came back from a horse race (or something) and said “while we were away, this happened….” and Grieg got Richards. But they maybe a childhood memory warped by 40 years of alcohol and other beneficial stimulants.
Excellent piece, Simon! Thank you.
’76 was before my time, but that colour pic of Greenidge needs comment. On that last day of the Lords test, my Mum on a whim came and got me from school (she had sent me off earlier that day without a word but got me an hour later, clearly lying to the school to do it) and we drove to Lords and saw that final day. For the first time I ever knew, it looked liked England had a chance to win, but such was the nature of GG’s double, and such was my so clearly already ingrained love of batting, that I went home happy as a clam.
Mum passed away a few years ago and I realize I never thanked her for that day. Not many Mum’s would have done that. Thanks, Mum.
Ok. As you were. Carry on.
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You want to read over what you write quickly so the iPad autocorrect doesn’t give stand out apostrophe catastrophes to hurt peoples eyes next time please?
Sorry, everyone. Will try harder.
I had to watch that youtube clip twice. Goodness me.
1. Was Derek underwood our second quickest bowler?
2. Did Gordon undo a button on his shirt for every session he batted?
3. Those one scoops were rubbish. Imagine if he’d had a decent bat.
4. As Arlott put it, “He never seems to miss out on anything short or anything over pitched.”
5. His feet started out a good 6 inches outside leg stump, yet for every shot he played his head always ended up in the right position. It reminded me of what AB Devilliers was talking about here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4zEAgMXxDjw (at 5 mins in)
Lovely comments quebecer, thank you.
My mum tolerated more than understood my love of cricket. I missed the GG 214* because she insisted we drive to Brighton to visit my brother. I didn’t put up much of a fight because I thought I’d be a dull draw! My brother didn’t have a TV and every one I caught a glimpse off was showing Wimbledon. We got in back in time to catch the very end – but it was all done and dusted by then.
The 1976 series is very well served on YT. On points 2 and 3, GG had nothing in the shirt unbuttoning front on Collis King and Frank Hayes. And Phil Edmonds the previous summer (weird how I can’t remember any specific play from the 1975 Tests but I can remember Phil Edmonds had his shirt unbuttoned). I thought GG’s Scoop was pretty cool at the time (still do if I’m honest) but the double-scoop was of course even better. Gower would have looked great with a plank of wood when he started but using one of those bats added to his elegance. Viv was using the ordinary SS that summer – he must have started using the SS Jumbo in 1977 or 1978 before switching to DF in the 1980s.
3. Yes, he seemed to be really belting all those boundaries with a full swing that nowadays would be sending the ball clear out of Manchester.
4. Shurely shome mishtake. Jim Laker, non?
6. Brian Close and the art of really aggressive fielding. Look how he stands! (and where)
Great stuff Simon. I was alive but not yet appreciative of cricket, so missed all the 70s names. I look forward to the next installment.
Eek! Laker!! Soz.
Sorry for the repost, but I think this is important enough to warrant attention from people reading the comments. – it is about politics and cricket in South Africa (to start with), and then focuses on developmental programmes to get people from disadvantaged backgrounds playing the game.
Wonderful writing Simon. I am looking forward to part 2. I was not even born at the time, so I can’t share any memories from that time.
All I can say is that I wish I had had the opportunity to see the game live (be it on television or at the ground), as it must have been a magic and mesmerizing experience.
Another amazing thing is that Greenidge is still second on the list in terms of SR when an opening batsman made 2 tons in a Test (only bettered by Warner at Cape Town in 2014). I can only imagine what impression it must have left on the England players and supporters to see witness the onslaught of Greenidge.
Thanks for the kind words D and also for that SA article which is fascinating.
England responded to the lack of pace in their attack in this Test by picking Snow-Willis-Ward for the next one. Snow was slightly past his best and Willis slightly before his, and of course it wasn’t Roberts-Holding-Daniel, but it was still a pretty decent pace attack that took twenty West Indies’ wickets in the match (it was the only Test that summer where Viv didn’t make a century).
Fredericks and Greenidge launched such an assault on them on the first day that they both scored centuries faster than Greenidge’s at OT.
I wasn’t going to say anything about the Headingley Test – to my mind, one of the finest matches I have ever seen and a fantastic recovery after the drubbing at Manchester – but Holding, Roberts and Daniel did play in that match. Holder was no slouch as the 4th seamer either, although not quite in the same league as Garner would be in future years. It had something for everyone: WIndies scored 450 at 5 runs per over but were bowled out for 196 in the second innings (thanks to 5 for Willis), but England also showed defiance against the quicks with a brilliant century for Knott and belligerence from Willey on debut setting up an amazing climax. The much reviled and unjustly forgotten Greig scoring a heroic 76 (to follow a century in the first innings) as wickets tumbled around him. On the final morning, he was scoring 4s at will and the pace battery seemed to be wilting – but no one could stay with him long enough. It was a long time before anyone achieved anything comparable against that attack. Maybe Gooch’s 123 at Lords in 1980 and a couple of innings by Mohinder Amarnath were the only other times they appeared rattled.
Thanks for commenting MIAB and 100% agree on your sentiments about Greig in that match at Headingley and generally. I give him a tough time in this piece but I do recognise what a splendid cricketer he was. It’s very sad that too many people only remember him for ‘grovel’ and perhaps a little for his role in Packer.
I think you slightly misunderstood my point about Roberts-Holding-Daniel. I meant Snow-Willis-Ward weren’t as good as them – not that they didn’t play at Headingley.
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For anyone who’s not caught up with the last day in Pallekele yet, here it is:
Geoff Lemon’s article on it in the Guardian today is the second best bit of cricket-writing I’ve read this year (after Kimber on the T20 WC).
In 1976 I was 14 and had just got into my local village cricket men’s team. I didn’t see a lot of this series because I was out and about most of the Summer holidays. (I saw more of the previous, slightly more gentle WI series ) I do remember watching Selvey get his early break throughs and everyone wondering why he hadn’t been picked before ( typical usual English over the top reaction to one match) Normal service was quickly retuned.
This was of to become the summer of drout. By the time of the Oval test match the country was under hosepipe ban almost everywhere, and I remember every cricket match I played in the late part of the summer being played on dark brown grass. It got so bad once sitting in a tea interval listening to my captain and some of the opposition talking not about cricket, but horticultral issues. Some were seriously wondering aloud if the grass would ever recover, and how much would it cost to re seed the entire outfield. When the rain showed up eventually it all went back to normal pretty quickly. Grass is a lot tougher than we thought.
I remember on one day being taken to the seaside with my mother and auntie and being pissed off because I wanted to be at home watching the cricket. My auntie lent me her little transister radio, and so I could listen to England collapse, and moaning about how poor they were.. I was quickly told to shut up…… ” they were doing their best.” Which I’m sure they were. But it makes Simons point about the shock many England fans had at WI strength. There were Sunday paper articles about how quick their bowlers were, and someone had worked out the fraction of a second you had to see the ball, decide what shot you were going to play, and then play it. All in less than a second.
As Simon says this was the beginning of a cricketing empire that would dominate for almost two decades. It was also the begining of the idea of just constant fast bowling all day, with no rest for the batsman. The problems that would cause for both batsman and over rates would come in the years to follow.
“a West Sussex rural comprehensive where football was king and cricket was seen as dull and posh”
Coming from the midlands, I still can’t get my head around this idea that there are big swathes of the country where cricket in seen as a posh sport.